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State to source blind scorer for medical marijuana license applications

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The state is planning on using an independent blind scorer when it comes to medical marijuana applications.

In a news release, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said they will soon be issuing a request for proposals for an independent blind scorer for medical marijuana license and certificate applications.

“We are committed to transparency and fairness and want to emphasize that the reviewers of applications will be blinded to the identity of applicants,” said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of DHSS. “Those granted a license or certificate will be selected solely upon the content of their applications, and those assigning scores to applications will have no access to applicants’ identifying information.”

According to a new market analysis, the minimum number of medical marijuana cultivation and dispensary licenses set in the Missouri Constitution exceed the expected need.

As of March 28, 2019, 471 pre-filed application fees, totally $3,328,000, have been submitted to DHSS. Of those, 142 have been for cultivation facilities, 256 for dispensary facilities, and 73 for infused-product manufacturers.

Researchers from the University of Missouri determined, with 66 percent confidence, in 2022, Missouri will need between 24 to 29 cultivators and between 115 and 132 dispensaries. The voter-approved constitutional amendment lays out a minimum of 60 cultivation licenses and 192 dispensary licenses.  

With a low confidence level because of limited available data, the study projects a need for 85 infused-product manufacturers. There is a minimum of 86 infused-product manufacturer licenses.  

The analysis looked at a variety of states across the country that have legalized medical marijuana programs. Though more than 30 states have markets, researchers concluded Washington, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Colorado offered the “most complete data available and we rely principally on these four states for our calculations.”

To determine an estimate of the number of qualified patients, the analysis looked at evidence from across 19 states and over time. The study is projecting the number of qualified patients in Missouri will be 19,000 in 2020, 22,500 in 2021, and 26,000 in 2022.

“Given the average medical marijuana quantity consumed by qualified patients, the lower and upper bounds provide a 66 percent probability that Missourians will consume between 5,207 pounds and 7,143 pounds in 2020. The range for 2021 is between 9,848 pounds and 12,874 pounds. Finally, the range for 2022 is between 13,272 pounds and 15,182 pounds,” the study states.

Researchers then projected the amount of revenue the state would collect based on a price of $350 per ounce. By the studies calculations, Missouri’s four percent tax will raise between $1.2 million and $1.6 million in revenue in 2020, between $2.2 million and $2.9 million in 2021, and between $2.9 million and $3.4 million in 2022.

The study, Missouri’s Medical Marijuana Market: An Economic Analysis of Consumers, Producers, and Sellers, was compiled by University of Missouri-Columbia’s Economic and Policy Analysis Research Center Executive Director Joseph H. Haslag and Research Analyst G. Dean Crader. William Balossi provided research support.

“We are working to implement a program that was voted by and for the people of Missouri, so it is important to us that we keep as much information as possible related to this program in front of the public,” said Lyndall Fraker, Director of DHSS Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation.

DHSS has also established 10 advisory committees — one for each of the application scoring criteria established by the Missouri Constitution — composed of subject matter experts to help review draft questions for the facility license applications. The committees are scheduled to meet throughout April and the beginning of May.

On Monday, the department also posted draft rules related to both transportation and physicians/health care providers.